Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI are catastrophic injuries.  The effects are often devastating for the people suffering from TBI and their loved ones.  Particularly in the context of catastrophic personal injuries, traumatic brain injuries vary in severity and type.

Each year, there are several occurrences of TBI happening.  In 2010 2.5 million TBIs occured either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries. 

What is Traumatic Brain Injury

It is estimated by the CDC that TBI contributes to 30% of all injury deaths.  Traumatic Brain Injuries are caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. 

Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain.

The Facts

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • In 2010, about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, or deaths were associated with TBI—either alone or in combination with other injuries—in the United States.
  • TBI contributed to the deaths of more than 50,000 people.
  • TBI was a diagnosis in more than 280,000 hospitalizations and 2.2 million ED visits.  These consisted of TBI alone or TBI in combination with other injuries.
  • Over the past decade (2001–2010), while rates of TBI-related ED visits increased by 70%, hospitalization rates only increased by 11% and death rates decreased by 7%.
  • In 2009, an estimated 248,418 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in U.S. EDs for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI.
  • From 2001 to 2009, the rate of ED visits for sports and recreation-related injuries with a diagnosis of concussion or TBI, alone or in combination with other injuries, rose 57% among children (age 19 or younger

Causes

Of note, the leading causes of Traumatic Brain Injury resulting in death varied with age.  For people over the age of 65, falls were the most prevalent.  Between the ages of 5-24, the leading cause for traumatic brain injuries were motor vehicle collisions.

For the non fatal TBI cases, falls were the leading cause of all Emergency Department visit.  Motor Vehicle accidents were the leading source of hospitalizations for young people and adolescents.

In total, the CDC estimates that falls lead to 40.5% of TBI and car crashes or car accident led to 14.3% of traumatic brain injuries.

Treatment and Care

Immediate attention is necessary.  The goal of the treating professionals is to stabilize the trauma and prevent further damage.  Doctors are concerned that the brain is receiving proper oxygen and that the body maintains decent blood flow.

For TBI, the doctors will usually have the patient undergo imaging including x-ray or CT scans to identify the issues.  Moderately to severely injured patients receive rehabilitation that involves individually tailored treatment programs in the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social support.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stokes states:

“Approximately half of severely head-injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue). Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness). More serious head injuries may result in stupor, an unresponsive state, but one in which an individual can be aroused briefly by a strong stimulus, such as sharp pain; coma, a state in which an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, unaware, and unarousable; vegetative state, in which an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness; and a persistent vegetative state (PVS), in which an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month.”

08/07/2014
By Logan Quirk